At first glance, Yris Palmer’s life looks like the product of a well-thought-out and deliberate plan that was years in the making. She travels the world by private plane; she wears designer looks straight from the runway; she’s the owner of a successful business; she’s the mother of a beautiful, young daughter (Ayla, 2). Oh — and she calls Kylie Jenner a close friend. But in reality, the 29-year-old’s monumental success was mostly a happy accident.
Palmer was born and raised (and still lives) in Los Angeles, but despite her proximity to Hollywood glam, a career in the beauty industry was the last thing on her mind. “To be honest, I didn’t really grow up with much interest in beauty,” she says. “My parents come from El Salvador, and they had a really poor background, so I never knew about beauty products, and I certainly didn’t grow up thinking I’d be in beauty.” In fact, Palmer had other ambitions: becoming a leading actress. While planning her ascent to stardom, though, she knew she’d need to find a paying job to support her — at least until Spielberg and Tarantino called. “At the time, I had just quit my job and was looking for a side hustle, and I wanted something that would give me the hours and the flexibility of my own schedule,” she explains, and just over five years ago, she found just that.
On a visit to London at 24 years old, she noticed that all the women there had lash extensions, which made their eyes pop. Until then, the only experience she’d had with lash extensions was a negative one — she’d visited a nail salon to get them for prom, only to be met with hair glue and trauma. Despite this bad first impression, she decided to try them again, instantly fell in love, and decided to take a certified lash course across the pond.
“I happened to be really good at it — thank god because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have a career right now,” she says with a laugh. “Once I started doing them, I fell even more in love — because making another woman feel instantly prettier was just such a good feeling.” Palmer knew that due to a flexible schedule and her natural skill, being a lash artist was the perfect job for her to pursue while focusing on acting. However, the more she did it, the more potential she saw in it as a career. “I decided to set up my business there, then return to acting as a hobby, not as my main thing,” she explains. “I’m honestly still doing that.”
Palmer started her career in lash artistry in 2014, several years before the industry blew up. But that wasn’t the only thing that led to her success: She largely set herself apart from other lash techs by using Instagram® to her advantage. Rather than just post photos of her clients’ extensions, she made a habit of documenting both before-and-after photos. It was that practice that caught the attention of some of the world’s biggest celebrities — including Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner — many of whom are now regulars.
In the five years since launching her business, Palmer has opened Star Lash Beauty Bar℠ in Los Angeles whilst maintaining her CEO status of Star Lash ExtensionsTM. She’s garnered hundreds of big-name clients — seeing 75 to 100 patrons a week herself — and over half a million Instagram followers; and she’s started a family. Most impressively, though, she has been at the very forefront of the now ubiquitous eyelash trend, shifting the needle on styles and creating some of the most iconic looks of our time. She’s also helped normalize the conversation around beauty enhancement. Read on to hear all about Palmer’s entrepreneurial learning curve, how she’s used Instagram to grow her business, and what her personal lash look is all about.
Spotlyte: Once you discovered the magic of eyelash extensions, you were obviously sold on them for yourself, but how did it become something you wanted to pursue professionally?
Yris Palmer: Once I started doing it, I really enjoyed the craft of it and how it made me feel, and the way I bonded with my clients made me almost like a therapist. It’s weird, but when my clients would come back for fills each week, I’d make them feel pretty, and also bond with them. If you ask a lot of lash artists, they’ll tell you that just working and being in your zone is very therapeutic.
You’re also dealing with so many different people, and every person inspires you to do a different set on them. Like, I could do a natural set for a mom and then a really dramatic, full look for an influencer. It’s definitely an art, and you have to have an eye. But since I’m working with eyes, it’s even more challenging since there are two of them. I always say, “They’re like sisters, not twins.” You’re trying to make them as similar as possible, but they’re not going to be identical.
Spotlyte: When you first got started, how did you distinguish yourself from other lash artists?
YP: To get people’s attention, I was posting a lot of before-and-afters on Instagram. I also never really followed the rules of how I was taught; I just did whatever I thought would look right, and I’d let my creativity take over. Now, when I teach my own classes, I always tell them that if something feels right or if you want to try something new, don’t be afraid to do it. I’m also very known for the wispy look, and I like for lashes to be a little bit more subtle and pretty than the typical extensions.
Spotlyte: Obviously, being in LA, having a large celebrity clientele is a huge part of your business. How did you first start working with celebs?
YP: It was my before-and-after pictures on Instagram. My first celebrity client was Christina Milian. She just started following my page and liking my pictures. So, I sent her a DM saying, “I noticed you started following me, and I’d love to do your lashes.” She messaged me back saying, “Yeah, love your work. Let’s set it up!” The next week, I did her lashes, and maybe three weeks later, Selena Gomez’s assistant called me and said, “Hey, wondering if you can come to The Four Seasons? Selena has a movie premiere tomorrow.”
Spotlyte: What has helped you maintain your celebrity clientele?
YP: I also do bottom lashes. A lot of people don’t do bottom lashes — or even know how to — and Kylie [Jenner] saw my bottom lashes and wanted them. So, I started doing hers. That was about five years ago. I was doing all of this from my dad’s apartment, pretending to be different people in the business. That’s where my acting came in: I’d pretend to be my receptionist and book appointments and all of that.
What’s helped me a lot is that most of my clients have stayed with me. I became their regular lash artist. And then, obviously, celebs would post my work and tag me — that helped a lot. Everything is word of mouth. It’s definitely about your craft and your work, but it’s also who you are as a person. I’m a big believer in that.
Spotlyte: How does your approach to your celebrity clients differ from your approach to regular folk, who aren’t walking red carpets and being constantly photographed?YP: You definitely feel more pressure with timing. Celebrity clients are just a little bit less patient, and I feel like I have to be quicker and still do a great job. But, overall, whether it’s a celeb client or a regular person, my job is still to make their lashes look perfect, and that’s all I care about. If I feel like my work isn’t great, I will not let them get up from the bed. At the end of the day, whoever comes into my shop is a representation of me, so I want to make sure I do a good job on everybody.
Spotlyte: How do you stay so level-headed when you’re working with these big names?
YP: It’s important to always stay grounded. I’m very humbled and grateful — those are just the morals that I carry personally. But I definitely feel happy that they want me to do their lashes and that they like my work.
Spotlyte: Do your clients give you a lot of creative freedom, or do they typically come in knowing exactly what they want?
YP: Most of them will let me do my thing and do whatever looks best on them. I do go on Instagram before and study their looks to get a better feel of who they are and what they would want. I also appreciate the clients who know exactly what they want — that makes the job so much easier. I also like to have my clients who love strip lashes to bring in their favorite ones, and I’ll recreate them lash by lash.
Spotlyte: What advice would you offer to people trying lash extensions for the first time?
YP: I would tell them to research the place, and I would tell them not to be scared. It’s life-changing, and if you go to the right place and the right person, it will make your life so much easier. It’s also really important to [bring] a reference picture, because what [a client] imagines in their head might be totally different from what [the lash artist] is thinking. Sometimes, new people have no idea what they want and don’t know the lexicon, but if they show me a picture, I know exactly what they’re thinking.
Spotlyte: What are your thoughts on how the lash industry has taken off in recent years? Do you think lash extensions are more of an open secret than they once were?
YP: We’re now in a time when it’s so cool to share everything. We’re all an open book right now. Everybody wants to know what products you’re using, and where you’re going to get your treatments done. That has helped the industry so much; eyelash extensions have just skyrocketed in the last five years. Everybody wants to know about them or do them, and it’s such a thing now because people are talking about it.
I always say there’s no such thing as an oversaturated market. There are so many people in the world that I really think there’s enough for everyone. I just hope that the new people coming in don’t devalue the market and the price point, because it is a very tedious thing, and it takes a long time to do a set.
Spotlyte: What are some of your favorite lash trends right now?
YP: My favorite lash trend would have to be the “American Wispy,” and my least favorite is called the “Broom Look,” where the lashes are one, long size and go all around the eyes.
Spotlyte: What have been some of the biggest challenges of starting your own business?
YP: One of the biggest challenges was that I really didn’t have a clue how to start a business, though I’d always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was raised and taught to work hard, but as immigrants, no one in my family knew how to run a business, and my parents didn’t know how to teach me those things. I literally would Google® how to do it and just figured it out. I’m learning as I go. As I grow, I still find new challenges and new things that I wish I knew more about.
Spotlyte: What role has Instagram played in starting and running Star Lash?
YP: Oh my god, Instagram has made my business! I have never paid for marketing — Instagram is my marketing, and I’m so grateful for it! It’s how people saw my work and how people would promote me, so it’s been such an essential tool. We have these platforms right now, and that’s what people should use them for. This is the new way, and it’s amazing.
Spotlyte: How do you keep your skin so glowing in the wake of a very busy schedule and work stress?
YP: Number one, I drink a lot of water. Water is key to skin. I use Kylie Skin® as my nightly routine. I wash my face with it, I use the toner, and the wipes to take off my makeup. I just make sure to wash my face every night now. The older I get, the more I really care about my skin.
In the mornings, I literally will just put Kiehl’s® sunscreen on my face. I live in LA. The sun is so strong here, and SPF is really important. Then, just a little lip balm, and I’m good to go. I only do makeup if I’m going out at night or have some kind of event. Day-to-day, I do not wear makeup, and that’s why eyelash extensions are so crucial in my life. If I didn’t have them, I would just look dead 24/7. With eyelash extensions, I still feel cute.
Spotlyte: How would you describe your own lashes, and what sort of styles do you do with them?
YP: Well, I go to Star Lash Extensions. Any of my lash techs will fill me, and I get my lashes done once a month. I like them very natural, and I’ll only do two sizes, which are 10 and 12. I like them shorter on the inside and a little bit longer in the middle, so my inner corners and my ends will be the same length, a size 10, and then my middle part will be a size 12. I don’t like to get them filled [too] often, only because I like them very natural; so once a month is perfect for me.
Spotlyte: How do you take care of your skin while you’re on the road? Are there any travel-size products that you like?
YP: Honestly, when I travel, I take everything. Everything that I currently use at home comes with me. If I start to use something, I get stuck on it and love it, and I won’t change. If I use a night cream, that will be my night cream for the rest of my life. And when I find something I like, I buy 10 of them. After I had a baby, I’d been trying to get my skin’s tightness back. I heard that almond was really great for that, so there’s this oil that I like to put all over my body — L’Occitane® Almond Smoothing and Beautifying Supple Skin Oil. I have, like, 15 of them because I love the product so much. So, if I’m traveling anywhere, that’s all coming with me.
Spotlyte: Whom do you trust with your skin, and what sorts of treatments do you do?
YP: There is a facialist that I like at Sev Laser Aesthetics®, and we do microdermabrasion on my face. I also like cryofacials a lot, so we do that. My face just feels so lifted and firm, and I love that, especially as I get older.
Spotlyte: What’s your biggest beauty indulgence?
YP: Going to get massages! When I’m working all day, lashing takes such a toll on my body. I [used] to get weekly massages. That [was] a must. They’re so relaxing, and my body will crave them. I only get them probably twice a month now, but I used to go way more often.
Spotlyte: How do you balance being a mother with your hectic work schedule and all the commitments that come with it?
YP: The key word is try. I try to balance as much as I can. If I’m working three days back-to-back, then the next two days will be just for my daughter. I make it a point to always do something with her every day and involve her as much as I can. She is my number one, and my work is second. It’s hard, but it’s totally doable.
Spotlyte: Is there anything you hope to teach your daughter about beauty?
YP: I’m already teaching her! She knows all about lashes. I’m going to teach her everything, though. I want her to know that some things in beauty are essential and that it’s important to be well-groomed. We are raised with whatever our parents teach us. Now, as a mother, I’m a little bit more knowledgeable than my mom was when I was a kid, so I’m going to teach her all of that.
Spotlyte: What advice do you have for other working moms, especially those looking to start their own businesses?
YP: Don’t feel guilty. I think that’s why men often succeed so much more — that mom guilt will sometimes stop us or slow us down. I deal with it all the time, but at the end of the day, you’re doing everything for your baby, and they’ll grow up and understand that. Don’t let mom guilt stop you from achieving your dreams.
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